The first day of fall is days away, and that means changing leaves, savory fall flavors and, of course, sweater weather. So grab your PSLs (that’s short for Pumpkin Spice Lattes) because this week we’re gearing up for fall with a preview of the top autumn activities in Illinois so you can make the most of the season.
Pumpkin Patches, Corn Mazes and Apple Picking, Oh My!
It’s the time of year we’ve all been waiting for: Fall. The air is crisp, the skies are blue and there are endless corn mazes, pumpkin patches, apple orchards and fall activities for everyone to enjoy. But with so many options, where do you start? Fortunately, many of the fall farms in Illinois offer a combination of pick-your-own apples and pumpkins, corn mazes, hay rides, petting zoos and much more.
Take Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove, for example. Known for having the World’s Largest Corn Maze, this year’s corn maze theme celebrates the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. If twisting and turning through 10 miles of maze isn’t enough, how about climbing the observation tower, bouncing around on giant jumping pillows, cheering on a pig race, or soaring through the air on a zip line?
Richardson Adventure Farm’s 2016 Star Trek corn maze
Picking fresh fall produce is a seasonal staple. Jonamac Orchard, Royal Oak Farm Orchard, and Rendleman Farms are just a few of the top places around the state to get your fall flavor fix, including the must-have apple cider donuts. Hand pick a variety of apples and stop by the country store to stock up on preserves, pickles, baked goods and other specialty items.
Photo of Rendleman Farm by Instagram user yoshifujiiceramics
Prost! to Illinois Beer Festivals
What happens when you combine fall and beer? You get Oktoberfest, of course! These classic German beer festivals are held all over the state. Champaign and Galena each host their own reputable Oktoberfest celebrations on October 1 to celebrate German heritage, food, beer, music and more.
Beyond Oktoberfest, fall beer festivals are happening all over the state. Say “cheers” to these celebrations this season:
- Woodstock Ale Fest, October 1: Celebrate the three “B”s at Woodstock Ale Fest: craft beer, bacon and bluegrass!
- Cock-A-Doodle Brew Fest, October 8: Aurora’s brew fest brings together local craft beers, finger-lickin’ good wings and a lineup of live music.
- Festival of Barrel Aged Beers, November 11-12: Held in Chicago, this is the country’s largest celebration of wood and barrel-aged beers where you can taste some of the rarest beers, which may not be available commercially from breweries across the U.S.
Wiener Dog Races are a highlight of Galena’s annual Oktoberfest. (Photo courtesy of Galena Oktoberfest)
Color Drives and Leaf-Peeping Hikes
Part of what makes this time of year so special is seeing the leaves change from summery green to fiery red, yellow and orange. There’s no better time to see the fall foliage than in September and October. Take a peaceful ride along the Great River Road in Alton or Grandview Drive in Peoria – the road President Teddy Roosevelt called the “World’s Most Beautiful Drive.”
The Great River Road Scenic Byway in Alton
For those looking to get up close with fall foliage, enjoy a leaf-peeping hike through one of the state’s many parks. Starved Rock State Park and Shawnee National Forest make for two exceptional opportunities to see fall colors at their brightest.
A canyon Starved Rock State Park as the leaves change colors
There are hundreds of fall events and activities happening this year. To find out more, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.
-Illinois Office of Tourism